I could have picked any number of wines when choosing one from the Piemonte region of Italy. I ended up selecting an Arneis, simply because I had never heard of this varietal before, and I was struck curious.

The Arneis grape variety takes its name from a word in Piedmontese dialect which means “whimsical”, which I presume to mean that’s how they look at the grape…as “whimsical”. Instantly my mind turned to images of a grape whistling care-free and ready with the humorous anecdote about their Uncle Louie.

This is simply how my mind operates. If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now: I did way anything that is illegal when I was in college.

Arneis are dry white wines. They are best served chilled, between 45-50 degrees F. They are renown for how well they go with seafood.

Eyes: A good straw yellow color. The rim is nearly translucent, but when you give it a swirl, it holds onto the glass very well, with thick droplets slowly crawling down the side of the glass.

Nose: Almost an apricot aroma, with also the distinct smell of sand. Very peculiar.

Taste: Sharp and crisp. Tastes like a cross between a pear and a very tart apricot, with a small kick at the end. Very nice finish, with a long slow decline.

Overall: My bias is against dry whites, but this is very nice. Flavorful, and not overwhelming dry. I would buy this again in an instant. I give this a 3 on the 1-3 scale.

I hope you liked this post and I am eager to hear your opinion about it! Also, share your stories about your favourite wine or just some that surprised you or disappointed you. I love to hear you stories and reviews! So keep them coming! And thank you for being a part of my blog. Love you all xoxo

From my own perspective there are several points which every company needs to understand, specifically in the global economy.

First and foremost, the market can and does dictate what is successful. Yes, manufacturers can influence the consumer (through marketing and advertising and the like), but the end choice falls on the shoulders of the consumer. If you’re selling something that the market doesn’t want, you’re going to have problems.

Second, tastes change. The wine market may be calling out for sugars and oaks now, but in thirty to fifty years, this will most assuredly not be the case.

Also, consistency is a favorable asset. For the longest time, wines have been able to sell themselves as having good years and bad years. With new technologies and the introductions of new enzymes to play with, this aspect is going to change within the industry. Yes, there will still be variation from year to year, but unless a winery can control that variance, they’ll put themselves at risk each and every year.

There will always be a market for high end wines, regardless of the technologies used to get to the results. Or to put it another way, good Bordeaux won’t go away. But several of the wineries who produce good Bordeaux probably will. When people start talking about tradition, that’s probably a good sign that they’re worried about their job.

If I had to guess at what the future holds for the wine industry, I’d take a look to the beer industry for guidance. You’ll have several, if not dozens of big names delivering a very controlled product that tries to deliver the public what that public wants. Then you’ll have smaller wineries that deliver to the public new (or in this case, old) tastes. My only concern is that some wines need massive aging to get those complex tastes, and that the financial risks might be too great for smaller wineries to be able to take them.

Meanwhile, the world wine market is opening up for places in South Africa, Chile, New Zealand and Australia. Europe has to understand that this box is already open and they have to deal with this influx sooner rather than later.

Because later will probably be too late.

Let it be said, on the record, that when it comes to economics I am a free-market advocate with several caveats, some of those being:

1) Producers must be paid a wage that allows them to feed and house their family well, and provide them further economic opportunities.

2) Regulation of the product if said product has a low to moderate probability of harming consumers if it were to go unregulated.

I mention the above, as I’m about to discuss globalization and the wine industry, and it’s best to understand my perspective so you know where my biases are.

There is a wonderful article from the German Magazine Der Spiegel, entitled In Vino Vilitas with the by line “European Wine Fighting for Survival”. The article shows the state of the European Winemaking community from several perspectives, many of which make it difficult to choose whom one should cheer for or against.

I say the above words with difficulty, because part of me likes the tradition of wine, often more than the wine itself. But when you have the French wineries upset because there are non-French wineries that deliver a consistent product using non-traditional methods (read American methods), it’s difficult to feel sorry for them. It’s even more difficult to feel sorry for them when their own population is turning away from their wine tradition.

And yet, I can’t cheer for the new companies either, who have no problem with developing a postmodern French wine mythology in order to take advantage of the non-European consumer’s ignorance of what French Wine has meant in the past. In reading the following paragraph from Der Spiegel, I couldn’t help but feel as if these companies love to patronize to their audience.

The company is designing his new labels, one for his top-selling cuvee, “La Favorite,” one for his “Chateau Richelieu,” and one for his third wine, dubbed “Trois Musketeers.” Pen came up with the bilingual name for his US customers — it sounds a little French and yet not completely foreign. On the back label, he’ll write that this wine harbors the kind of tension that existed between the Musketeers and the Cardinal.

Not only do I find the above patronizing, but also offensive to those who know a fair amount of French history, or at least a bit of the book by Dumas.

Now, they did look at %O2 as opposed to the gross amount, meaning that the decrease could have been due to the increase in overall volume, but it doesn’t appear to be the case here. While the authors still maintain that O2 can get through the staves it seems to me that oxygen enters your barrel – assuming a good bung/bung hole fit – only when you remove the bung to top the wine to prevent too much oxygen exposure. Of course this begs the question, do we need to top as frequently as we do if very little air is moving into the barrel? Well, in theory, no. If the bungs are very tight and a vacuum typically forms, then it means the O2 in your headspace is steadily decreasing, so why top it? (The aforementioned study demonstrates this, though they did not let the experiment go long enough to conclusively show that O2 becomes zero; therefore I do have to allow for the possibility that O2 may be coming in another way. Perhaps as headspace is formed, drying of the top stave occurs, increasing the likelihood that 1) o2 can ingress through micro leaks and 2) the bung/bunghole seal is compromised. This has been noted before, generating the suggestion that bungs should be hammered and the barrels subsequently rolled to their side so the bung/bunghole seal is always in contact with wine).

It’s a little scary when I consider that sometimes I remove a bung at topping and notice there is NOT a vacuum. In other words some barrels are allowing O2 in, most likely through the bung hole. But maybe if it’s good enough for Château Pétrus , its good enough for me. I recently learned that they hammer their silicon bungs in and perform zero topping. However they still rack every 2 months so the wine is exposed to plenty of O2.

However notice I said articles I READ. I don’t speak French and that is the beauty of this Journal, despite other deficiencies, the articles are published in French and English (the French ones appear first, of course). Additionally, the noteworthy UC Davis Professor Vernon Singleton found the journal credible enough to contribute a review article in a Volume 6 2000 issue. Finally, the articles I have read (one of which I will get to shortly) often were focusing on principles and not necessarily examining amounts. That is, they observed trends that if true in one barrel, would likely prove true as a principle in most barrels – even though numbers might differ.

One of the articles in question set off more self-congratulation regarding the erroneous and arrogant belief I have that most people just don’t get barrel aging (as if I do in my young career!). This is something I have written about previously , but lacked a definitive paper to support my position.

Then I was relying on one of the frequent rants of Professor Roger Boulton. Let me quote my intro: It is taken for granted that aging wine in oak not only imparts yummy complementing flavors to the wine, but also is an excellent way to slowly expose the wine to O2. Now, I do not doubt that the wine in oak is exposed to more O2 than the wine in a sealed stainless tank, but is it really true that the O2 is coming into contact with the wine through the staves? Before answering let me say that this issue is beyond taken for granted, what I am about to do is commit enological heresy. For most this discussion is useless because it is already settled. Not only that but in their minds there was nothing to ’settle’, it just is, a fact, a priori. Back to my answer: no. I think enological heresy is hyperbole. Certainly I am overstating the lack of understanding regarding how O2 gets into the wine. Nevertheless Gaseous exchange in wines stored in barrels (Volume 4, 1998 J. Sci. Tech Tonnellerie) clearly demonstrated that when there is a good seal between the bung and bung hole, a vacuum develops and oxygen slowly and continuously decreases despite a steady increase in the headspace volume.

It didn’t take long to realize that my hope that Vines Wines would provide a forum for winemakers and viticulturists to discuss current industry trends and new scientific literature relevant to growing and making wine was in vain. The reality is that it is a journal that allows me to post tasting notes and to organize my head as I ponder different viticulture and winemaking issues. Discussion has turned to Tyler’s Wine Gospel; for better but probably for worse. Therefore I decided that it would be nice for me to be able to use this site as my own personal reference to topics that I have investigated while trying to stay current with winemaking and viticulture trends. A summary of Rootstock information, Sulfur and wine , and others now provide – for me – a quick referral when I need to look something up. Let’s just hope I am able to stay current.

To these recent additions, I also added a page entitled Oak Opinions. Though currently quite slim, as we barreled down our last 2006 red wine lot this year, oak has been on my mind. I recently gained access to a French publication that focuses on oak: Journal Des Sciences et Techniques de la Tonnellerie . Now the French have a habit of 1) publishing their data only in French and 2)relaxing the definition of peer reviewed. While around 175 million people do speak French, a quick glance at the list of countries will not inspire thoughts of romantic enological getaways or bastions of vineyard science. One of these days the French will realize that – while beautiful – everyone should not have to learn their language. But I digress. More alarmingly, the lack of stringent requirements for the Materials and Methods section leads to – at least in the aforementioned journal – important information falling by the wayside. For example, in several articles I read in this BARREL focused journal, there was nary a mention of how many barrels were included in each treatment.